Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The cautions of cold weather running.

I was not planning on writing a blog post for a few more days, but had something pretty significant happen today that I thought was blog-worthy.

The most important thing that happened today was that I was able to help a fellow runner achieve her goals of running her first 5k. Nothing else will top that today.

Unfortunately, that's only part of the reason for this writeup. First, I should probably explain why I was out running a 5k today.

This past October, I interviewed for and received the role of Run Coordinator at Life Time Athletic in Vernon Hills. I have been a Run Lead for the past few years between Schaumburg and Vernon Hills, so when this opportunity became available and a friend/co-worker told me to go for it, I did. We offer training programs for different distances, and this certain training program began November 6th and went all the way until, well, today.

Life Time Fitness puts on a Commitment Day 5k on January 1st in 37 different cities across the US. It's a pretty cool thing if you think about it: thousands of runners, making a commitment to start off the new year in a healthy way. 

Chicago's finish line for Commitment Day!

Chicago's event took place in Grant Park (basically the Jim Gibbons 5k course for those of you who have run that before). Ryan dropped me off so that I could meet my Vernon Hills participants (what a nice guy:)) and before we knew it, it was race time! I chose to run with one of the runners who had come to every single training run and was just so excited to learn new things about running. A few weeks back, she was nervous about completing our scheduled 2 x 1mile at goal 5k pace. This particular night was freezing cold and windy...which was actually perfect preparation for todays' race. The first mile was a bit crowded, but even the snow and 15+mph winds and cold couldn't stop the excitement from filling the course. We walked for a few very short times during mile 2 and totally rocked mile 3 (running the same split as mile 1!). The path, while plowed, had some snow that had drifted so I made sure I allowed my runner the "clean" part of the path as my shoes were getting fairly wet.

When we crossed the finish line in just over 39 minutes, my runner was ecstatic. Her goal was to finish with no walking (if you were out there this morning, you understand why walking was okay) and we put a time goal of 40 minutes out there. I was SO happy for my runner! We walked over to the registration tent for me to get my little backpack and to take a  picture and I ran into a fellow Run Coordinator, Dan. We started talking and I could tell that my body wasn't feeling it...I don't even remember much of our conversation actually since I felt so crummy.

Luckily, another runner snapped this beaut. Check out those conditions!!!

My runner and I took a picture on my phone and were about to take one with her phone as well when I told her I needed to sit down. I told her I felt like I was going to pass out, as I knew this exact feeling from when I passed out earlier this year. Long story short, in June Ryan and I took an ice bath and I passed out. I knew the whole vision thing, blurry/starry and hearing starting to go would lead to passing out, and that's what I was experiencing when taking a picture with my runner. The volunteer who was taking our picture said she was going to get medical, but I told her not to as I knew I just needed water and to sit down. John, the GM for my Life Time, was right there and asked how I was doing too. I told him I knew I was going to pass out so just needed to hang out for a bit and drink some water.

She had me sit down right by a little heater and asked if I could feel the heat. I wanted to lie and tell her yes so that she would stop trying to call medical over, but I suck at lying (and hate it, to be honest) so told her that I couldn't feel the heater. Well, she freaked out. Ran over to get medical. Ugh. Lady, I know my body and know I just need to get warm and drink some water and I'll be fine.

Well, medical wasn't having that. The guy had me get on the table and elevated my legs...until I started shaking uncontrollably. He decided it would be best for me to sit in the chair by the heater. I was starting to get feeling back in my hands...and then apparently I passed out.

I fell pretty hard too since I can still feel it in my head. When I came to, the first thing I heard was the music and announcer, but had no idea where I was. I was confused as to why Ryan wasn't the one waking me up...and then about 30 seconds (or so it seemed) later, I realized I was on the floor and my GM was the person talking to me. They lifted me back up to the table and wrapped me in more blankets and blasted the heater on me until they could get the semi-stretcher thing over to me to take me to the ambulance to warm up.

I had my GM call Ryan from my phone, who was probably pretty confused and maybe even a bit panicked. I mean, I've done marathons and now an Ironman and have never passed out from the training or the racing....and I'm passing out from a 5k? Really??

Long story short, medical thinks it was just hypothermia. After texting with my nursing friends, they agree (and I value their opinions pretty highly:)). We also came to the conclusion and sorry if this is TMI for any of you guys, but it is important for the ladies (and I write my blog to try to educate others from my personal experiences)... it was that time of the month during both of my passing out sessions. Seeing how clearly my blood was not circulating well, this makes sense. My blood loss coupled with the cold ice bath and cold temperature was just too much for my body to handle. So ladies, please be cautious of this when you approach winter running. Obviously this won't happen to everyone, but it was something totally unexpected for me and a lesson I feel like others can learn from.

I do believe I was dressed warmly enough based on what I wear for working out in the winter. I had on a Craft base layer used for 20-30 degree weather plus two long sleeve shirts, a stocking hat, gloves, running tights and my normal running shoes. Normally, in weather like today (22 degrees, 15mph wind, snow), I wear the same but with only one long sleeve shirt and have never had a problem. I also did make sure to eat a PowerBar prior to running (something everyone should do--eat something before running) and drank a lot of water last night (with being sick over the past week, I didn't even have any alcohol on New Years Eve last night). Dressing warmly and being hydrated are two things that sometimes I think we overlook when training in the winter.

Lastly, I have to thank my wonderful coworkers from Life Time. John, my GM, was so patient with me and was the person who called Ryan to let him know what was going on. Hootie, one of the Life Time Athletic Event staff, followed me to the ambulance to make sure I was okay. And Lynn, the wonderful person who even got me into this Run position, found out it was me going to the ambulance and came straight to me. These people truly care about their fellow co-workers and I am extremely lucky to work with them!

SO, to all you winter runners: please make sure you're dressed appropriately as this hypothermia stuff is nothing to mess around with! Make sure you hydrate in the winter as if it was the summer. Trust me, your body will thank you!

Stay happy, healthy and committed. Happy 2014!


Nicole Kesten said...

ack, so happy you are ok now. i did the NYD5K in LP and it was cold and windy. congrats on helping new runners complete their race. so awesome.

Eddie Gaul said...

Glad to hear you are all right. What an experience. Congrats on giving back to the running community and good luck at the Snow Fun Run this weekend.

jacqui said...

Thank you Nicole and Eddie! It was definitely something to learn from (the fainting part) and the best way to start off the new year (the running with a new runner part:)).